Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Michael Picco

Michael Picco's tale "The Wheel" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery. Out April the 3rd. Kindle pre-orders available now.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself:

1. I am a germaphobe. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this neurotic and annoying behaviour. (Editor’s note: smart man)

2. I like to eat my pancakes from the inside out. That way, there’s always a tiny pool of syrup to dip my pancakes into without them getting all soggy. It’s a mouth feel thing. Don’t judge me. (Editor’s note: smart man again)

3. I used to be an avid spelunker. Too many injuries prevent me from doing that now though, I am sad to say. I actually got stuck in a cave once and I am still trying to work that awful experience into a narrative. (Editor’s note: hmm…not so smart man)

What drew you to this particular theme? 

There’s something dreadful and diabolical about the efficiency of machines. They are relentless. They move with a tireless monotony that I find deeply disturbing. In writing The Wheel, I didn’t want to write about a machine that was designed to kill, I wanted to write a story about something that is normally innocuous… something safe. I wanted to write about something that would normally be calming or soothing to see in operation. I wanted to write about a machine that was designed to bring life to a community but instead killed its most vulnerable.

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

The increasingly short-circuiting, gear-slipping clockworks between my ears. Stupid brain… (Editor’s note: keep it well-oiled with whisky…NB. I’m neither a doctor nor a mechanic.)

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you? 

I love Tim Curran’s work! He’s a great new voice in the genre! John Skipp and Craig Spector remain two of my absolute favourites in the field and have been a HUGE influence on my work. I also enjoy Erinn Kemper’s work (and wish that I wrote more like her).

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

Burning Chrome, by William Gibson; The Karma Machine, by Michael Davidson, Fred Saberhagen’s The Berserker War Series and, as unpopular as this book may be: Tommyknockers, by Stephen King.

What does your editing process look like? 

Oh, you mean besides a lot of drinking, swearing and slamming my face onto the keyboard? (Editor just burst out laughing…spraying expensive scotch over cheap laptop) Chuckle… I usually roll my edits as I am composing. The previous day’s work gets at least two rounds of edits before the whole story gets edited.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

My process is fairly organic. Usually this method results in a LOT of rewrites, but seems to yield the best results for me.

What are you working on now?

I just released my second collection of short stories (Corpse Honey, A Banquet of Gruesome Tales), so I am taking a little bit of a break from writing and focusing on promotion instead. I hope to start work on The Lost City of Brass (the long-awaited sequel to Fraser, The Disappearance of Michael Pitts) this summer.

Where can we find you online?



Thanks, Michael!